Christmas is shaping up to be different this year for the Kiwis, as families have a harder time getting together and finding the right gifts. Photo / 123rf
Be warned – Christmas is taking a different form for many Kiwis this year.
Not only may Santa Claus struggle to deliver this special gift in time for December 25 as global supply shortages are felt, gasoline prices have also reached record highs and many families could. having a hard time getting together this holiday season.
For families, this is due to government travel restrictions, which not only make it difficult for Kiwis to return from overseas, but also reduce domestic travel.
If Delta’s current outbreak cannot be contained, then Aucklanders – and even those in other areas – risk potentially being held in detention until Christmas.
Buyers, on the other hand, are warned to receive their orders “immediately” or risk missing the gift they want to ship from overseas on time.
Electric bikes and guitars are among the items facing potentially long delivery delays, according to retail groups.
So cross our fingers, decorate the hallways with holly branches, and think positive thoughts as we take on some of the festive challenges that lie ahead this Christmas.
Let’s start with the positives. Thousands of Kiwis living abroad are already starting their journey home in what – for many – will be their first happy family reunions since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Then there are the Kiwis living in regions currently at level 2, who are hoping to be able to return to level 1 by Christmas.
This would allow them to reunite as a family to enjoy a Covid-free lifestyle almost unknown to the rest of the world for the past two years.
Yet, on the other hand, there are thousands of other Kiwis overseas who are unlikely to be able to return home this Christmas, as the demand for seclusion rooms in hotels far exceeds supply.
There is also uncertainty surrounding domestic travel and whether New Zealand Kiwis will be able to unite or not.
Travel in and out of Auckland and its Level 3 lockdown is currently strictly regulated.
This means that Aucklanders who have family outside the city currently cannot travel to be with them, and vice versa.
And with the number of Covid cases starting to rise, the likelihood increases that the outbreak will escape the city and send other regions to Level 3 and a potential future of permanent living with the virus.
Labor has pledged new freedoms for the nation once vaccination rates reach or exceed 90%.
But there is no certainty that these vaccination rates will be reached, let alone before Christmas.
University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker believes the Aucklanders can expect to be stranded for the rest of the year.
And how the virus unfolds in Auckland will be key for the rest of the country.
If strict removal or elimination controls and a tighter border around the city prevent the virus from repeatedly escaping, then the rest of the country could travel freely under Level 2 rules this Christmas, Baker said. .
“Auckland is a tough environment,” he said.
Travel issues and high costs
Brent Thomas, president of the Travel Agents Association of NZ, hopes all of New Zealand will be open to domestic travel this Christmas.
“It will be a sad day if we are in such a situation that families cannot reunite this Christmas, given that we are almost two years into this Covid pandemic,” he said.
For those in Alert Level 2 settings who can travel during the holiday season, Thomas said the costs of flying and driving would likely be a bit higher.
That includes gasoline prices, which have reached record highs, according to the Gaspy tracking app.
He said the country’s average 91 octane price currently stands at $ 2.39, up slightly from the previous record high in the second half of 2018.
In practice, many gas stations across the country are now charging over $ 2.50 per liter for fuel, adding pressure on Kiwis who already face rising costs elsewhere.
For those looking to fly, Thomas said Christmas is always a “peak peak season” and therefore flight costs may also represent an increase.
However, airlines would be ready to arrange additional flights to meet demand if domestic travel were allowed, he said.
“One of the main things people need to look at is making sure they have flexibility in their reservations, so if they need to change them, they can do it,” Thomas said.
Accommodation prices could also be mixed, given that many owners have made it hard.
Hostels targeting young travelers, for example, were particularly affected.
About a third of the hostels have closed or have been put into hibernation since the international borders were closed, the Backpacker Youth and Adventure Tourism Association said.
This shows how much room prices for all types of accommodation could vary this summer, as some places offer cheap deals to attract customers, while others are closing their doors, leaving fewer options among which are Choose.
And while international travel without a quarantine isn’t an option until next year, Thomas said the Kiwis should start thinking about and potentially booking their 2022 vacation soon.
“Christmas is always a popular time of year for people to talk about travel – they’ll think of all those idyllic places they want to go that they haven’t been able to go for two years,” he said. .
Cruise ship vacations are already resuming and popular favorites such as Hawaii, the Caribbean and parts of Europe are quickly booking for 2022 due to pent-up demand, he said.
Find that special gift
Global shipping delays, and the potential that retail outlets in Auckland – and perhaps elsewhere – might not be able to physically open their stores before Christmas, mean the Kiwis should try to anticipate this. year.
“It’s a good idea to shop early and bring it home, packed and stashed,” said Greg Harford, general manager of Retail NZ.
Shipping problems during the pandemic have led to fewer container ships calling at New Zealand ports and freight costs have jumped.
A survey by analysts at Retail Radar found that two-thirds of retailers plan to raise prices to cover costs, and the delays are affecting almost everything, including electronics, clothing, power tools, books. , gym equipment and games.
Retailers earlier told the Herald that the hardest to obtain products include electric bikes, guitar brands, and popular children’s toys.
But Harford encouraged the Kiwis to go out and support retailers this Christmas, as those in Auckland were still doing so with Level 3 restrictions.
“There will be products available on the shelves, there may not be the same product line that you normally expect,” he said.
“Sales from Black Friday through Christmas and New Years will be bigger than ever as this is typically the time of year when retailers generate their profits for the year.”